Fresh attack on ship carrying Indians

The crew of an Egyptian freighter including six Indians came under renewed attack by the sea brigands.

Mumbai: The crew of an Egyptian freighter
including six Indians, released by Somali pirates on Monday,
came under renewed attack by the sea brigands on Wednesday as they sailed in the pirate-infested Somali waters on way to a port
in Oman.

However, there was no report of any casualty.
While the 22-member crew of MV Suez faced threat of
being retaken, the Directorate General of Shipping said the
Indian Navy is coordinating with other navies for the safe
passage of the ship to the Port of Salalah in Oman.

PNS Babur, a Pakistani Navy vessel, which happened to
be in the vicinity of MV Suez, is expected to reach the ship
soon and escort it to Salalah, DG (Shipping) S B Agnihotri
said.

Agnihotri said a fibre glass boat from which pirates
fired on M V Suez could not be be detected on the radar as it
was very small.

"Usually, chances of a released ship being attacked or
taken over again are very rare, but unfortunately such an
incident has happened," he said.

Ravinder Singh, 3rd Officer on board MV Suez, which
was in captivity for over 10 months, told a private TV news
channel that the ship was attacked early this morning.

"We were attacked 2 hours ago by pirates. There were
four pirates in the skiff that attacked us. They fired upon
us. The attack went on for over 40 minutes. One pirate was
injured as we too retaliated with whatever we could lay our
hands on. We contacted the numbers of Indian Navy and we did
not receive a positive response. We got through to an officer
but he disconnected the call. We have not received any
response after that," he said.

According to Agnihotri, soon after the attack, it was
discovered that PNS Babur was located at a place from where it
could reach MV Suez in "4-5 hours". The Pakistani naval ship
was therefore roped in to take the merchant ship to safety.

If everything goes as planned, MV Suez will reach
Salalah in the early hours tomorrow after which the ship
management will take over, he said.

Meanwhile, anxious relatives of the Indian sailors
vent their anger over the fresh threat faced by their kin
following renewed assault by the pirates.

"Does the government have no shame? If they have any
shame and any empathy for the Indian sailors, they should
bring my husband back. I was so happy to learn about by
husband`s release yesterday, but today I began contemplating
suicide," said Madhu Sharma, wife of an Indian sailor.

Sampa Arya, wife of another sailor, demanded that the
Indian government send a Navy ship to escort MV Suez to
safety.

"Just a minute ago my husband called me saying that
they have received a mail from the owner. The owner said he is
trying to communicate with the Indian Navy and is getting a
negative response from them. Also that they are not willing to
discuss any security issue. In these circumstances what do I
do? I have asked him to send me that mail on my ID. So that I
can show that they have been freed, at least now they should
not be so cruel," she said.

Somali pirates had freed 22 crew members, including
six Indians and four Pakistanis, of the hijacked vessel after
a ransom of USD 2.1 million was paid to them.

Leading Pakistani rights activist and former federal
minister Ansar Burney was involved in prolonged negotiations
with the pirates and raised money to be paid as ransom.

The hostages, including six Indians, four Pakistanis,
11 Egyptians and a Sri Lankan, were released on Monday after a
protracted ordeal during which the pirates frequently
threatened to kill them if ransom was not paid.

According to Pakistani captain of the ship Mohammad
Wasi, the pirates had given several deadlines and extended
them as they were told that the money was being arranged.

Wasi said 40 to 50 armed pirates would always guard
the hostages, who survived on only rice and pulses and drank
rain water during their 10-month nightmare. Most of the
hostages were sick.

PTI

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